Singer Sha Sha on her rise to fame: "I didn’t always know I could sing"

Sha Sha (PHOTO: Sha Sha Instagram)
Sha Sha (PHOTO: Sha Sha Instagram)

She never imagined she would make it in the music industry and was planning a career in the health sector – but fate had other plans. Now Sha Sha, real name Charmaine Shamiso Mpambiro, is the voice on several popular amapiano songs. All it took was for friends to believe in her voice more than she did.

 FINDING HER VOICE

Sha Sha (25) was born in Mutare in Zimbabwe and lived in various parts of the country after her parents had separated. Her grandmother used to take her to church every Sunday, where her talent was discovered and nurtured after she’d joined the choir. “I didn’t always know I could sing and that’s something people find really odd.” Her friends kept telling her to pursue music as a career, but Sha Sha wasn’t convinced. So they decided to take things in to their own hands and in 2013 sent recordings of her singing covers to a radio station. “When I heard my voice on radio I began dreaming of becoming a musician.”

 TAKING A RISK

The radio airplay led to her working with famous Zimbabwean musician Audius Mtawarira, who became her mentor and helped her break in to the South African music scene. “While I was working towards my goal of moving to South Africa, I performed at the Harare International Festival of the Arts and got to meet my musical idol, Oliver Mtukudzi.” Her family was sceptical of her desire to move to Johannesburg and tried to persuade her to find gigs around Harare and Bulawayo instead. “I spent most of my life moving all around Zimbabwe but to my family, moving to SA seemed a risk they thought I’d quickly regret,” she says. “It was something I needed to do for myself – I’d spent my entire life trying to please people and this was a way of prioritising myself.” In 2014, she let go of her plan to study nursing and set out for Jozi where she performed at restaurants and sang ballads at weddings.

GROWING PASSION

She befriended Melusi Mhlanga, a cab driver who drove her to her gigs. “I told him I was a singer and he said he used to drive DJ Maphorisa around and that he’d introduce us,” she recalls. “He did as he promised and we met at his studio where I sang for him.” Impressed with her voice, Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Samthing Soweto worked with her on the EP and created what is considered by many as some of the best amapiano songs. Her new eight-track EP, Blossom, took her eight years to create and she says it truly is her first love. “It’s been in the works from the moment I decided I wanted a career in music. I hope people can feel all the passion I have for music,” she says. “All I wanted to do was music and for me to create amapiano sounds was a little out of my comfort zone.” Her feature on Samthing Soweto’s Akulaleki helped grow her fan base even further. “My passion for music keeps growing and I’m so grateful that I took a leap out of my comfort zone. Being at the right place at the right time really worked out for me.